Life in the Pennsylvanian Period (325 to 299 million years ago) is making me just a little seasick. I have been immersed in the shallow Oklahoma Ocean for the past few weeks, but this one has been on the glacial side as far as my painting’s been concerned.
There’s been a bit of a struggle on, of all things, the sea bed. The simplest part of this painting, and getting it to lay down and behave itself has taken all my will and focus. Why the simplest passage was the most challenging, I couldn’t say. There was something there I couldn’t see, a visual barrier I kept trying to go over with repeated fruitless running leaps. What set me free, finally, was a good book.
The goniatite admonishes me to keep trying.
It wasn’t a How-To-Paint book, although that would have been useful, too. What broke the block was The Ghosts of Evolution: Nonsensical Fruit, Missing Partners, and Other Ecological Anachronisms, a wonderous, enchanting read by Connie Barlow. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to take my eyes from the depths of the Paleozoic and immerse myself in tales of avocados and Gomphotheres, papayas and Eremotherium, and divaricating plants and Moas. I’d read a few pages and look up, mentally refreshed, and see the painting in a brilliant new light. A few hours of alternating Ghosts and painting, and I was back in the swim with my head above water. I guess you have to find the right book to make it work, but if it works, it works. It worked.
By the way, if you’d like to buy an Eremotherium, here’s a the best deal.
Slowly pulling the Stethacanthus out of the murk and mire.